What Makes a Perfect Beer?
Chow has deemed Russian River Supplication the perfect beer, a sour brown ale with sour cherries and three strains of wild yeast (including that Brettanomyces you may have heard of)...and oak-aged in Pinot Noir barrels. As part of their "The Perfect" series, which also crowns hamburgers, martinis, olive oil, and a host of other foods, Lessley Anderson tours the brewery with Russian River's Vinnie Cilurzo and discusses the aging process as well as working with the wild yeasts that have made the name "Russian River" something of a rosary for East Coast beer nerds.
I'm not ready to single out the perfect beer — I haven't even tried Supplication yet — but I will say that Consecration, also by Russian River, is certainly a perfect beer. I was reunited with this lush sour beer last weekend during a trip to San Francisco, where I sampled it on draft (repeatedly) and brought a bottle home. (Read on for the beer-porn description.)
Consecration is a strong, light-bodied sipping beer with a deep garnet color that looks like being trapped inside a cherry. It ages in cabernet sauvignon barrels, basking in French oak while soaking in the flavors of the black currants added to each barrel. The Brett sourness blends in with the currants' tartness, making you pucker and mash your lips around like the obnoxiously cute girl in the Welch's commercial. Sweet berry flavors come to the party too, along with notes of funky yeast, chocolate, and light oak (showcasing the difference between delicate wine oak and heavier bourbon oak). The world's best beer? Who knows. But it tastes like perfection.
(Sadly, Russian River beers are sparse on the West Coast and nonexistent here. But Vinnie brought his yeasty gang to Savor last year, so we'll keep an eye on the beerfest circuit and let you know next time they're in town.)
Screenshot from Chow